ANSI Ratifies Key Storage Device Spec

A leading storage standards body reports that a specification for rendering storage drives more “intelligent” to improve their management and performance has been ratified by the American National Standards Institute.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), which announced the news at this week’s Storage Networking World Spring 2004 show in Phoenix, says the Object-based Storage Device (OSD) specification has completed the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) ballot process. HP , IBM , and Intel , along with other vendors, have worked on the spec.

The passage means OSD has taken a big step toward becoming the 10th family of SCSI commands, which accompany the SCSI Block Commands for
disk drives and SCSI Stream Commands for tape drives, according to SNIA.

An OSD is a device that stores, retrieves, and interprets objects, which are containers that house application data and storage attributes used to store files, database records, and e-mail. Experts say OSD is valuable because it transfers the low-level storage functions of file systems and databases into
the storage disk or tape drives, improving block-based interfaces.

Storage systems enabled by OSD will offer more scalable, secure, and cross-platform data sharing, making the network much more dynamic and intelligent than it would be if it just employed traditional “dumb” drives. OSD-based systems are also expected to benefit from delayed allocation of data on the
storage media and smart caching.

Ultimately, storage systems based on the OSD spec can be created with shared access by multiple clients with better performance and security — all major advantages for storage applications.

For example, enterprise and scientific applications that generate high levels of read/write access to file systems and databases will benefit from the scalability of OSD. Moreover, applications that require greater security will benefit from the authorization of individual I/O requests.

While the ANSI news is a sign of progress, Michael Mesnier, co-chair of the SNIA OSD Technical Work Group (TWG) and storage architect at Intel, maintains the OSD working group will continue to work with the ANSI committee to add more functionality to the current spec.

For example, Julian Satran, co-chair of the SNIA OSD Technical Work Group and distinguished engineer at IBM, says his group plans to tailor OSD for information lifecycle management (ILM) and quality-of-service attributes that expand the range of applications OSD can address.

SNIA, which also announced that 108 storage products are now compliant with the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) for interoperability among disparate devices, has agreed to ensure new storage networking products will use SMI-S in 2005.

Story courtesy of

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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